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Curriculum Design: What Are Ofsted Looking For (And Why Should We Provide It)?

A well-designed curriculum sets the foundation for effective teaching and learning and is the backbone of the educational experience for students. We explore what Ofsted inspectors look for in a curriculum and why it is essential for education professionals to understand and provide these elements.

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Sarah

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A well-considered curriculum design sets the foundation for effective teaching and learning and is the backbone of the educational experience for students. In this blog, we will explore what Ofsted inspectors look for in a curriculum and why it is essential for education professionals to understand and provide these elements.

In 2019, Ofsted carried out a huge consultation process, which looked at curriculum design within our schools and the impact on our children. As a result, Ofsted published a new methodology for inspecting the curriculum and revised the inspection framework. 

The framework sets out the expectation that Ofsted will gather evidence on the intent, implementation and impact of a curriculum. The key here is knowledge. Based on evidence on human cognition and learning, we know that knowledge is built over time, with children making connections between new learning and what they already know. Ofsted wants to see educators capitalising on this with a well-sequenced, broad curriculum that allows children to develop their knowledge.

 

The Meaning of Curriculum 

Before we discuss what Ofsted is looking for, it’s essential to understand what the term “curriculum” actually means. Simply put, a curriculum is a set of courses or a program of study designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to succeed. A curriculum should be designed to meet the needs of all students, regardless of their background, abilities or interests.

There is a marked shift in the current Ofsted framework away from pupil outcomes and towards the quality of education – this is because Ofsted wants to see that education is provided to cater for all pupils. It also means that schools in difficult circumstances (location or levels of deprivation, for example) can still achieve well in Ofsted inspections, even if their results and pupil outcomes are not as high.

 

What Is Curriculum Design?

Curriculum design is the process of creating a curriculum that meets the needs of all students and is aligned with the educational goals and standards of the school or institution. The curriculum should consider the student’s needs, the school’s goals, and the standards set by regulatory bodies such as Ofsted.

 

What Is Curriculum Development?

Curriculum development is the ongoing process of refining and improving a curriculum to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of students and the school’s educational goals. This process involves regular review and analysis of student performance data, feedback from teachers and students, and consultation with academic experts. You should regularly update the curriculum to reflect societal changes, the economy, and technological advances.

 

What Do Ofsted Inspectors Look For?

 There are four main categories that Ofsted inspectors take into consideration when assessing curriculum design: relevance, breadth and balance, depth and progression, and engagement and enjoyment. Let’s look at each in a little more detail. 

 

Relevance

Ofsted inspectors will look for a curriculum relevant to the needs of students and the school’s goals. The curriculum should be designed to meet the needs of all students, regardless of their background, abilities or interests. As well as teaching the content of the National Curriculum, schools should seek to develop a local curriculum that reflects their own intake and community.

This is an opportunity to truly show understanding of the children that you serve, the lives they live and the challenges that they face. You might consider personal development opportunities, clubs and extra-curricular activities, days spent ‘off timetable’ to engage in activities related to your local area or career advice and guidance services. All of these activities concern the wider development of your pupils, as opposed to the relentless pursuit of academic achievement.

 

Breadth and Balance

The curriculum should provide students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for the future. Ofsted inspectors will look for a curriculum that provides a balance of subjects and skills. Ideally, this should cover all areas of the curriculum, including English, mathematics, science, history, geography, art, and music. They will also consider whether there is sufficient time in the timetable for each.

It’s important to note that the curriculum should be broad for all pupils, including those with SEND. It can be tempting to narrow the curriculum for less able pupils – but this is not a favourable choice.

 

Depth and Progression

Ofsted inspectors will look for a curriculum that provides a deep understanding of the subjects and skills being studied. Sequencing here is key. The curriculum should allow students to progress from one subject or skill to the next, building on their existing knowledge.

Secondary schools should consider how year seven pupils build on their primary knowledge. And schools should ensure consistency in the language used to teach and learn.

 

Engagement and Enjoyment

Ofsted inspectors will also look for an engaging and enjoyable curriculum for students. You should design the curriculum to challenge, motivate and encourage students to take an active interest in their education.

 

The Importance Of Providing A High-Quality Curriculum

 Providing a high-quality curriculum is essential for several reasons:

  1.       It ensures that students receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for their future careers and personal lives.
  2.       It helps to engage and motivate students, encouraging them to take an active interest in their education.
  3.       A well-designed curriculum can help children to learn and build knowledge.

 

In Summary 

In conclusion, Ofsted inspectors are looking for a curriculum that is relevant, comprehensive, engaging, and enjoyable for students. It should provide a well-rounded education that covers all subjects and skills and prepares students for their future lives and careers. Education professionals play a crucial role in ensuring their school’s curriculum meets these standards. So, it’s essential that they fully understand what Ofsted is looking for.

At Teach HQ Limited, we’re committed to empowering education professionals with the knowledge they need to enhance their teaching. Our courses provide the resources to improve curriculum design and to positively impact children, young people, and the wider community.

Explore all courses.

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